1. Join Now

    AVForums.com uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Digital Optical Cables

Discussion in 'AV Receivers & Amplifiers' started by chrisj, Jan 5, 2003.

  1. chrisj

    chrisj
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    Anyone got any recommendations for make/model of digital optical cables? The price range is quite large. Is it really worth paying a lot (£60-£80) for a cable?
     
  2. Ian J

    Ian J
    Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2001
    Messages:
    25,529
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    166
    Ratings:
    +4,906
    Only if you have really expensive equipment on either end of the cable.
     
  3. Sunday Ironfoot

    Sunday Ironfoot
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    The general rule is that you should spend 10% of the cost of the system on cables. So if your Receiver or whatever cost £500 then buy a £50 cable, but rules can be broken. ;)
     
  4. gringottsdirect

    gringottsdirect
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2002
    Messages:
    2,896
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    71
    Location:
    50 Rue St Georges, Paris.
    Ratings:
    +27
    If £500 receiver, spend 1% on a £5 optical interconnect.
     
  5. petrobas

    petrobas
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    I use a £20 optical digital cable in my Cyrus AV system . I paid this amount because of the quality of the cable & not its attributes . Don't spend more than this , waste of money .
    I have a spare one for sale actually , I'll put it on the FS adverts if your interested.
     
  6. Ian J

    Ian J
    Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2001
    Messages:
    25,529
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    166
    Ratings:
    +4,906
    The cable manufacturers would love that but it's a leftover from two channel days and doesn't really apply anymore.

    A decent scart cable between dvd player and TV and then the law of diminishing returns sets in with a vengeance for all the other interconnects.
     
  7. petrobas

    petrobas
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    Here here .
     
  8. Demon

    Demon
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2000
    Messages:
    954
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    31
    Location:
    Cheltenham
    Ratings:
    +56
    in the general vain of the thread,

    But when a friend on a small budget was after some interconnects, we went to CPC for there 'cinema' branded items,

    The optical cables TOSlink Lead or even cheaper Cheap TOSlink

    Long 3M scart Leads
    CPC Scart Lead

    and Component Video leads
    http://custom1.farnell.com/cpc/prod...catalogue&category_name=&product_id=AV0461466

    We also borrowed some IXOS v expensive interconnects, £45 Toslink, £70 Component Video and £65 SCART leads

    The problem was the cheap leads all seemed to perform identically to the IXOS, we tried loads of DD/DTS films, and carefully looked at noise around writing etc, any colour edge tizzing/bleeding, any background video noise, etc, and the scart/component leads were flawless... we referenced these against the scart lead that came with the DVD player, and the normal cheap 3 phono component video lead that also came with the DVD player, which were truly awful in comparison.

    The Toslinks, even the very cheap all gave good results... we tried DVD-A, DVD's and normal CD's, and could not pinpoint any deficiencies at all..

    perhaps sometimes its a case of looking at what you get for the money...

    so I can only conclude
    1. I am looking at the wrong things when trying to compare
    2. The Equipment is too low end to get the most out of the cables (Tosh 50" RPTV, Tosh SD-9000 DVD, B+W 603/LCR60/600 s3's + Denon 3802)
    3. You dont always get what you pay for..

    The difference in price was frightnening, 3 scarts, 3 Toslinks, 1 Component Video Lead and I would be half way to a Sub by now....
     
  9. RL123

    RL123
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2002
    Messages:
    1,037
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Ratings:
    +4
    Maybe a silly question but will I notice a big difference between a £20 cable and a £10 cable?

    I need another optical cable for my CD player but don't want to spend £20 on a cable if I will get the same/similar results from a £10 one
     
  10. Sunday Ironfoot

    Sunday Ironfoot
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    It's only a general rule, I think the point it's trying to make is that the more expensive system you have the better quality cables you should purchase for it. For instance, for that cheap set of PC speakers, a £5 cable from Dixons would probably suffice. Yet the same cable used on a £5000 Denon/Arcam/Mission system will probably give you problems, sonically/tonally.

    As for optical cables, they tend to be expensive to make (maybe not for crossing the atlantic), so £20 is a good price to pay for an optical cable, but I wouldn't get the £10 one.
     
  11. graxxor

    graxxor
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    Hi there,

    I agree that generally, 20 quid is a fair price to pay for a cable. I once paid 50 quid for a silver coated OFC stereo pair (50cm) effort with beautifully laquered plugs: It really was a work of art. But I couldn't honestly tell the difference (and believe me, I really wanted to after paying 50 quid) with my system compared to my 19.99 richer sounds efforts. I had an Audiolab 8000 CDM 8000 DAX and 8000S tied to a set of B&W 601s (IIRC)

    I'd say that, for a short, say 75cm lengths, and if you are only listening to CD Audio (which is hideously flawed anyway) then 20 quid for a stereo pair is PLENTY.. Open up your valuable CD player and more often than not they are just using cheap ****e anyway.

    BUT, if you are going for TOSLINK optical cable, a 20 quid is really the top end. Try a 10 quid and a 20 quid cable side by side and I'm really confident that you won't be able to tell the difference.

    In fact, I would be as bold as to say that TOSLINK optical is the one time I would consider using the prepackaged cables, and I do, connecting my Yammy MD596 up to my Denon A1SE with no problems as of yet.

    I used optical cable at university for transmission of digital data between modules that I built. I used nasty cheap plastic cables for lengths of less than a meter without a noticiable data error rate increase.

    Of course, optical cables are easy to break, so the 20 quid cable might be better protected...


    Come to mention it, I've never had digital dropouts with electrical digital signals just using regular cable either. I use a free mono audio cable to connect my CS-Digital box digitally to my Amp... As of yet... No worries...

    Finally, aesthetically sucks, using free cable sucks when you've just blown 500 quid on a DVD player. There's just something not right connecting your TAG CD player and DAC together with a free plastic TOSLINK connector.
    ;)

    Graxxor
    [​IMG]
     
  12. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2001
    Messages:
    17,133
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    133
    Location:
    Cumbria
    Ratings:
    +1,277
    Interesting one this

    Given the choice I would use coax as they are more predictable in their performance. Just look for 75 ohm coax. Good cheap ones are the like of Profile Gold ? but anything from IXOS / QED will do the job fine. Remember the important bit here is the 75 ohm coax and not those flashy plugs, none of them are 75 ohm anyway and therefore all introduce jitter / reflections into the system. The important bit is the cable and don’t forget this is probably 50p tops. This is all that is needed. Don’t waste money on silly money designs, they are just not warranted.

    TOSLINK connectors are a little more confusing. I would avoid the thin cheap plastic ones (a few £s), the plastic fractures with small micro-cracks near the plug causing jitter and even dropouts. Look for medical grade glass if possible. Plugs might also benefit from industrial polishing as well. Again these need not be expensive and I have seen good examples at the £20 price range. QED and CHORD are fine but are probably more money than you really need to spend .

    The reality is a digital interconnect is simple and cheap to make, but hey so are analogue ones ;)
     
  13. Silent Fly

    Silent Fly
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    chrisj,

    Personally I build my own cables.

    I use Low Loss Satellite Cable (Maplin FT125 or XS17T) and good phono plugs (Maplin AQ56L). They cost me £6 for a stereo set and they sound absolutely perfect (i.e. transparent).

    For digital connections I use electrical instead of optical because I can build the leads. However, it would not make any difference as digital connections are almost immune from disturbs. As the word digital may suggest, the signal does or does not go through the cable. And if it does, it does not make any difference even if 50% (amplitude-wise) of the signal is noise. As far as the D/A converter can discriminate between digital streams and disturbs the sound will not change. Is it not one of the reasons why we are using digital?

    Unless the cable is absolutely c**p it should make any difference if it is pure silver, copper or plutonium (apart from a strange green light coming from the back of your amp if you use plutonium:) )

    In a nutshell: for digital cables, as far as it is mechanically solid, go for a cheap cable.

    Silent Fly
     
  14. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2001
    Messages:
    17,133
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    133
    Location:
    Cumbria
    Ratings:
    +1,277
    Haven't tried Pu ones yet, got loads hanging around as well ;)
     
  15. NicolasB

    NicolasB
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2002
    Messages:
    5,804
    Products Owned:
    1
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    136
    Location:
    Emily's Shop
    Ratings:
    +520
    Beekeeper,

    can you recommend a specific model of TOSLINK that has all the attributes you consider desirable and retails for £20 or so?
     
  16. RallyofDiscover

    RallyofDiscover
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2002
    Messages:
    38
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    9
    Ratings:
    +0
    I have read this thread with interest as I have spent the last 6 years of my life working with major telecoms and Military customers on Fibre interconnection systems from PCB to PCB level. and for 24 years have worked in the interconnect business.
    Prior to spending your hard earned cash you may be interested to know the following
    1. there are very few foundries capable of drawing fibre but a great many companies buy it and jacket the fibre.

    2. Performance is all about the quality of the termination given standard fibre performance and as we regularly run transmission over 1-2 Km, 1 Metre is not a problem

    3. When I recently bought a TOSLINK lead from a local shop the sales guy gave me such a hard sell on the expensive lead that I nipped into work and picked up a F.O. loss meter the results were interesting the £12 lead which probably has a manufacturing cost of £3 exhibited a loss of <.5dB while the 'Professional' standard lead £40 exhibited a loss of 1.1dB The sales guy then shut up!

    4. A company that used to be part of our group made and branded speaker cable for many well known speaker and cable suppliers, many of which have won awards in various Hi Fi review type magazines (contractual obligations do not permit me to name names!) - I have read many reports and threads on speaker cables and have no intention of getting drawn into the fray but please remember that what you pay a retailer £20/Metre for was probably sold to the Brand holder for anything between £0.20 tp £0.50 a Metre. Much of the profit from the sale of speaker cable then gos to produce adverts and quasi technical reports proving to people that they need to spend lots of money on interconnects. And i have seen speaker cable priced at Hundreds of pounds per metre - Absolutely brilliant marketing!!!!:D I am most impressed as I am a Marketing Manager myself.

    Please do not forget that my job and those of specialist companies selling anything is to by hook or by crook persuede you to spend as much money as possible - if they can persuede you to spend 500 times the manufacture cost they will and will treat you extremely well in the process !!

    The best advice I can offer is use your ears and your judgment and do not be swayed by all the high cost marketing!!

    for a final farewell one of the companies we supplied cable to used to spend an expert down to listen to the cable we had manufactured and accept the delivery. One of our more enterprising manufacturing guys connected a piece of twin and earth power cable that had been left by our service personnel and the expert with perfect hearing passed it as fit for delivery - Draw your own conclusions:devil:
     
  17. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2001
    Messages:
    17,133
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    133
    Location:
    Cumbria
    Ratings:
    +1,277
  18. Jeff

    Jeff
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2000
    Messages:
    5,489
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    106
    Location:
    Basingstoke
    Ratings:
    +256
    Back in the days that I cared about such things I tried a £12 toslink cable vs a £40 coax and unsuprisingly I prefered the coax. I then tried a £50 toslink cable and noted that it was at least as good as the coax cable. I personally think toslink cables vary in sound quality more than coax, but at the end of the day there are far more important things to worry about.
     
  19. Silent Fly

    Silent Fly
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    Ian McMeekin,

    Many thanks for the interesting post.

    I have the feeling that even if it would be possible to prove (and I think it is) that a £10 cable sound exactly as a £100 one, people would prefere to believe in marketing than to common sense.

    Silent Fly
     
  20. Jeff

    Jeff
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2000
    Messages:
    5,489
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    106
    Location:
    Basingstoke
    Ratings:
    +256
    The problem is most of the time the same people will tell you that all DVD players sound the same when using the digital out (bits is bits) and that certainly isn't true. Anyway Ian proved that cables aren't exactly the same from the db loss rateing even if it was the cheaper cable that gave the better (or was it?) reading.
     
  21. Sunday Ironfoot

    Sunday Ironfoot
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    The thing I find strange is that HIFI magazines review these various types of cables and swear that a particular £100 cable sounds particularly good, and it has better soundstaging, sounds more dynamic, blah blah blah, then another lesser £20 cable. Can these HIFI 'experts' actually hear any difference, or is it psychological?
     
  22. NicolasB

    NicolasB
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2002
    Messages:
    5,804
    Products Owned:
    1
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    136
    Location:
    Emily's Shop
    Ratings:
    +520
    Yeah, but that's because of jitter. Optical cables cannot induce jitter. It's all about asking the right questions.
     
  23. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2001
    Messages:
    17,133
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    133
    Location:
    Cumbria
    Ratings:
    +1,277
    They never do it under ABX blind testing, the advertisers won't allow them :devil:

    Digital cables (read most cables) are actually easy to do and need not cost silly money, get the basics right and you are just about there. As Jeff says, there are far more important things to worry about

    Basics for Digital Coax are good screening / 75 ohm cable (and preferably plugs)

    Basics for TOSLINK are good quality fibre with no breaks where it is attached to (clean well polished) plugs. A good plug / cable interface is the important bit.
     
  24. Silent Fly

    Silent Fly
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    Jeff,

    I do not know if you are right or wrong when you say that digital outputs from different DVD players are different. I do not have too much experience in HT and Hi-Fi so probably they do are different.:cool:

    Do you know if exists some documented test about it? Something like an objective measurement (e.g. the output stream captured from another device).

    Although Ian proved that the cables are not the same, what are interesting are the consequences. Even with a cable much worst than the worst cable tested (the £40 one) the difference would not have been audible:

    I believe that the interesting part was:

    For me it is enough to let me doubt that there is a reasonable relation between price and quality.

    It is just my personal point of view or I should say, “my choice”. If you want to spend £100 for a digital cable and you can hear an improvement, go for it. Personally I can’t hear any difference :confused:.

    Silent Fly
     
  25. Jeff

    Jeff
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2000
    Messages:
    5,489
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    106
    Location:
    Basingstoke
    Ratings:
    +256
    I have not seen cheap plastic fibre cables used for networking and sever use, only glass.
     
  26. Silent Fly

    Silent Fly
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    This might be because the distance and the environmental situation. ;)

    In our homes, at 15-25°C, no mechanical stress, 1 meter distance, cheap plastic fiber should work pretty well.

    At the end of the day, the destination is a D/A converter that, if it does its job as it should, will remove the noise anyway. ;)

    Silent Fly
     
  27. RallyofDiscover

    RallyofDiscover
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2002
    Messages:
    38
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    9
    Ratings:
    +0
    Travelling in US (NC) at the moment and while sat on plane I think i have finally worked out the cable price thing - I was reading a review on the Placebo effect in medicine (people get better when given a pill that has no active ingredients) perhaps it is the same with HIFI cables people expect a cable costing £100 a metre to sound better than one costing £0.20 so to them it sounds better!!:devil:
    ..... and everyones happy! manufacturer and retailer makes lots of money, User is convinced he can hear the woodwind section breathe in etc etc
    The medical community have now discovered that this effect extends to operations - They can cut people open and sew them up again without doing anything and people feel better - This just gos to prove that those people out there that believe they can 'hear the difference' will not change there opinion regardless of how much real evidence is presented to them because, they believe they can hear the difference!!!! So it's really a case of whatever 'rings your bell' oh the joys of a capitalist society

    :devil: :devil: :devil:

    This gos hand in hand with the other well known marketing law if you try and sell things too cheap people refuse to buy because they don't believe it can be any good hence the words 'professional' 'Specialist' 'high quality' ..... All excellent words for the marketing man. The more i pay the better it must be etc etc.

    At the end of the day its personal choice and belief much like wine - As long as you enjoy your Barolo with Dover sole don't worry about it, enjoy it. You pays your money and takes your choice....:D :D :D

    Life is not permanent so enjoy it while you can!
     
  28. Jeff

    Jeff
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2000
    Messages:
    5,489
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    106
    Location:
    Basingstoke
    Ratings:
    +256
    I believe in taking resonable precautions with cables, good cable, good terminations, shielding, etc. This doesn't mean expensive, but there is a minimum cost associated with these things. If you make your own cable you can do this on the cheap but few of us have the skills, the last time I tried to make a coax cable I nearly sliced one of my fingers off.

    Ian, if you are trying to say cables don't matter then you are wrong. They matter a lot and if you are going to spend thousands of pounds on AV equipment then spending a few hundred pounds on quality assured cables is money well spent.

    Jeff
     
  29. coolposter

    coolposter
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    I'm new to this area but I've already read this kind of posts many times. And you can always draw a line between two camps: better cable sounds better vs. cable doesn't matter.

    Well I have a question regarding speakers. Does expensive always mean better? Or, let me put this way, does a 70,000 pair speaker always sound 3.5 times better than a 20,000 pair (with the same interconnect, pre/pro/power supply)?

    IMHO, maybe more expensive cable/speaker does work better. But you are paying 90% extra money for only 10% performance return.

    All in all, it's your money. You are the boss. :)
     
  30. Dubbing Mixer

    Dubbing Mixer
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2002
    Messages:
    643
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    21
    Location:
    By, and sometimes in, the sea
    Ratings:
    +2
    Good engineering is good engineering regardless of cost.

    Make your own apart from opticals which really require specialist equipment and practice. If you can solder, and read the catalogues, then co-ax and speaker cables really are not rocket science whatever the marketing dpartments would have you believe.

    PS 4mm or 6mm T&E makes great speaker cable but it's a b*gger to get round corners.
     

Share This Page

Loading...